By HAL McCOY
When the Cincinnati Reds traded 14-game winner Dan Straily to the Miami Marlins last winter for minor league pitcher Luis Castillo, the howls from fans could be heard from the Ohio River to South Beach in Florida.
As luck would have it, Straily and Castillo faced each other Sunday afternoon in Marlins Park.
While Straily was good, victimized by some tough luck, Castillo was just plain outstanding in pitcher the Reds to a 6-4 victory, the Reds first win on this road trip after six straight defeats.
CASTILLO, 24, AVERAGES MORE than 97 miles an hour on his fastball, tops in the majors for pitchers who have thrown more than 500 pitches. And he had the Marlins on their heels — a career-best eight innings of one-run, three-hit, one walk, six strike-out pitching.
Perhaps the most significant figure was the one walk after three Reds starters in the three previous games against Miami walked 17.
The baseball spikes were on the other foot on this day as Miami pitchers walked eight.
WHILE MIAMI FANS HAD to wonder why their team let Castillo escape, he breezed through eight innings and got stronger as the game progressed. Two of his six strikeouts came in his last inning.
Castillo’s support came mostly from catcher Tucker Barnhart, who not only directed him through any possible troubled waters, he contributed two hits to drive in three runs and made another outstanding defensive play.
Straily, expected to be traded before Monday’s non-waivers deadline, gave up two runs in the second inning without a hard-hit ball.
BUT HE STARTED HIS OWN misery by walking Billy Hamilton to open the second. Jose Peraza and Barnhart both blooped singles that could have and should have been caught. But Barnhart’s hit scored a run. Then Castillo dropped a safety squeeze bunt and Straily slipped chasing the bunt and a second run scored.
Miami’s only run off Castillo surfaced in the sixth and it came because Castillo issued his only walk, a one-out pass to Dee Gordon. He scored on an A.J. Ellis double that ticked off center fielder Billy Hamilton’s glove and rolled to the wall.
Then came another superb play by catcher Tucker Barnhart, who earlier in the series twice threw out fleet Dee Gordon trying to steal second, the only time in Gordon’s career he has been thrown out twice in one game.
Christian Yelich topped a ball in front of the plate. Before it could roll foul, Barnhart snared it, tagged Yelich and fired to third base to get Ellis trying to move from second — an inning-ending double play. From there Castillo retired the final six he faced, three on strikeouts.
And he dedicated the game to his father because it was Father’s Day in the Dominican Republic.
In an interview after the game with Jim Day on Fox Sports Ohio, Castillo said, “You always want to do good against your ex-team, so today was a big day for me.”
THE REDS BROKE THE GAME OPEN in the seventh and Reds manager Bryan Price could feel Miami manager Don Mattingly’s pain.
Miami relief pitchers walked four in the inning. There was another leadoff walk to Hamilton, a single by Scooter Gennett and a walk to Joey Votto, filling the bases with no outs.
Adam Duvall grounded into a fielder’s choice and Hamilton scored. Eugenio Suarez walked to fill the bases again. Jose Peraza, nearly impossible to walk, walked on a full count to force in the fourth run. Barnhart rolled a single up the middle for two more runs and a 6-1 lead.
Closer Raisel Iglesias made it interesting in the bottom of the ninth when he gave up a single to Dee Gordon, a walk to A.J. Ellis and a three-run home run on a hanging slider to Marcell Ozuna, his 24th homer.
Suddenly, it was 6-4, with one out and nobody on. Derek Dietrich flied to right and pinch-hitter J.T. Realmuto grounded to second, to end the trepidation.
It was only Cincinnati’s third win in 17 games since the All-Star game, but a gasp of fresh Florida air for the Reds while watching Castillo put his former teammates to sleep. And it ended an eight-game losing streak in Miami for the Reds.